Before you buy a bottle of wine at the 24 hour liquor store near me, consider whether you knew that there was an active wine production in Canada?
According to the Norse sagas, a Viking named Leif Erikson, who landed on the American continent in 1001, discovered thickets of wild grapes here, and therefore called this land Vinland – the Land of Wine. However, the Canadian history of wine does not look deep into the centuries.
The father of Canadian winemaking is German corporal Johann Schiller, who took part in three American wars. In 1811 he retired and settled in Canada, west of Toronto. He planted a small vineyard around his house using cuttings from wild plants found along the banks of the Credit River. He began to make wine from the grown crop, which he offered to neighbors. This wine tasted the same as the drink you buy at the nearest liquor store near me. 35 years later, the “business” was bought by the French aristocrat Justin de Courtenay, who opened production of red wine in Quebec, similar to Burgundy.
However, the first truly large winery came into existence in Canada in 1866, when three Kentucky farmers bought a 12-hectare land plot on Pele Island, in southern Canada, and planted it with Catawba grapes. A few months later, they had neighbors – two English brothers, who planted a vineyard on an area of 6 hectares.
Gradually, vineyards began to appear in other places. In the east, they reached the Niagara Peninsula, where most of the wineries are located today. By 1890, 41 wineries were operating in Canada, of which 35 were in Ontario. In British Columbia, in the Okanagan Valley, as well as in Quebec, along the banks of the St. Lawrence River, grape cultivation also began, although the initiative belonged not so much to farmers as to the church.